Ship reforms not all sweet say sugar execs
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 | 00:00
Australia's largest sugar producer says it could be forced to lower its quality standards under draft shipping laws.
Executives from Sucrogen Australia, which was the sugar arm of CSR until it was sold about 18 months ago, told a Senate committee they agreed with what the federal government's shipping reform legislation was trying to achieve.
But they did have problems with some of the provisions, especially around temporary licences.
The legislation, yet to clear parliament, aims to revitalise Australia's disappearing shipping industry.
It will introduce a three-tier licensing system with general licences for Australian-flagged ships and temporary licences for foreign ships.
Sucrogen Australia government relations manager, Martin Jones, said his company owned one ship which it used to take sugar from Queensland to Melbourne.
But under the new arrangements, it wouldn't necessarily always be able to use that ship.
"We find it quite astounding that if you own a cargo, you can't be guaranteed using your own ship to carry your own cargo," he told a hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.
Sucrogen BioEthanol executive general manager Garry Mulvey said there was no Australian chemical tanker that could carry the company's wet products so they used foreign-flagged vessels but paid Australian wage rates.
He said the way the legislation was drafted meant temporary licences had to be bought for five voyages even if you only needed one or two.
"In essence we would have to use all five voyages or we have to apply for a licence for five voyages fully knowing that we're not going to use them," Mr Mulvey told the senators.
Also, the legislation meant the company would have to use Australian ships if they were available.
"If someone wanted to bring an Australian chemical tanker in and it had an epoxy lining, for example, that we don't use, we would be forced to use that ship or not ship at all," Mr Mulvey said.
"That's a quality standard that is below what we currently do."
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